The 16th International Congress on Photosynthesis:  
Opportunities and Challenges of the 21st Century



The 16th International Congress on Photosynthesis will be held August 11-16, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. The congress will include fifteen plenary lectures, twenty-one scientific symposia, poster sessions, exhibitors, opening reception, final banquet, excursions and accompanying persons program. The congress is organized as an official event sponsored by the International Society of Photosynthesis Research.

The overall organization of the congress will be co-chaired by Dr. Robert Blankenship from Washington University in St. Louis and Dr. Donald Ort from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and USDA/ARS. Four major committees will be responsible for all aspects of the planning of the congress. These include a Program Committee, chaired by Donald Ort, a Fundraising, Local Arrangements and Coordinating Committee, chaired by Robert Blankenship, a North American Advisory Committee and an International Program Advisory Committee appointed by the International Society of Photosynthesis Research.

The congress website has been established at and includes information on the program and the venue and also has links to satellite meetings.

Background and Overview

The severity, rapidity and breadth of global environmental change represent the greatest potential danger to society of our times, the most important and complex challenge to scientific understanding and the most difficult decision points to confront policymakers. Some of the most significant scientific uncertainties have to do with the response to and feedbacks of photosynthesis on climate change. Indeed, the paired biological processes of photosynthesis and respiration dominate global carbon cycling but this critical biology is only minimally represented in first generation climate models.

As the world begins to look for solutions to the anthropogenic carbonization of the atmosphere and to feeding a planet inhabited by 10 billion people, it is increasingly clear that photosynthesis research must play a central role. The enhanced yield traits that drove the Green Revolution of the past century are all but exhausted leaving improved photosynthetic efficiency as the only remaining yield component that has the capacity to drive the doubling of agricultural productivity that the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization projected will be needed to meet increasing global demand across the next 50 years. At the same time the world is looking to photosynthesis in the terms of biofuel crops and synthetic/biosynthetic photosynthetic systems to help curb the carbonization and thus warming of the atmosphere.

Scientific Program

A primary goal in the formulation and presentation of the scientific program for the 16th International Congress on Photosynthesis is to illuminate the expansive intellectual and societal scope across which the multidimensional photosynthesis research community makes a vital contribution. At its core photosynthesis research has for decades been in the vanguard of advancing basic mechanistic knowledge about the photophysics of light absorption and energy transfer in antenna systems, primary photochemistry in reaction centers, electron and proton transport complexes, structure-function relationships of catalytic proteins, to name only a few examples. The importance of this arena of photosynthesis research continues undiminished. The mechanistic understanding of the regulation of leaf level photosynthesis was the key event launching an understanding of the interaction of chloroplast reactions with larger-scale processes at the plant, community and ecosystem level. This contribution of photosynthesis research has been the foundation science from which our research community now leads research investigating some of the most important issues of our time.

The program is organized around three broad tracks; Solar Energy Capture and Conversion; Environment, Adaptation and Climate Change; and BioEnergy and Food. The first track includes many of the traditional topics covered in previous congresses. The second track includes some topics from previous congresses but also includes additional topics centered on the topics of climate change and global photosynthesis. The third track is primarily focused on bioenergy and agriculture and how improvements in photosynthesis can be engineered into photosynthetic organisms.

Congress Venue and Environment

The congress will be held in St. Louis, MO, in the heartland of the USA. Link to map The congress venue will be the St. Louis Hyatt Regency at the Arch, literally in the shadow of the iconic Gateway Arch. Link to hotel info The hotel is newly remodeled and has outstanding conference facilities and excellent rooms, for which we have secured a very competitive rate. The St. Louis area has many exciting activities for congress attendees and families, including the world famous St. Louis zoo, the world champion St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, riverboat excursions, and nightlife featuring the finest blues and rock and roll music, in addition to many other types of entertainment.